Interviews With Monster Girls Review

Title: Interviews With Monster Girls

Release Date: January 2017

Production: A-1 Pictures

Based on: Demi-Chan wa Kataritai Manga by Petos

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy

Geeky: 2/5 This anime has high production values in terms of artwork, music, and voice acting, however; it lacks any real substantial plot or depth beyond the unique and cute characters.

Sweetie: 4/5 This is a very cute anime with a ton of charm. I deducted 1 point for lack of a strong central story and lack of character growth or development. Still if cute is what you’re looking for, be sure to check this series out.

Overall: 43/55 78% C+ “Good Anime For Girls”

Overview:

Concept: 8/10 Interviews with Monster Girls as the name suggests, revolves around a professor who discovers Monster Girls attending his school. The girls come to form a friendship with their teacher who in turn comes to learn more about each of the girls’ unique traits and (dis)abilities.

Each episode is structured as another day spent going to school and features one or more of the monster girls in the teachers’ office. Sensei will also make home visits or encounter the girls in the halls of the school. He tries his best to help them with their problems and cares a lot for the girls’ well being.

It gains points for a unique concept with interesting and diverse characters. However, it at times becomes a typical Harem like anime, which detracts some from the overall “uniqueness” of the show.

Story: 5/10 My main complaint with the story is that we don’t see the girls’ day-to-day lives very much, aside of their time spent in Tetsuo’s office. It is a very cute and fluffy anime with interesting characters, but just not much depth. I would have liked to have seen the girls interacting with other human classmates, taking part in club activities, school festivals, sports, or other hobbies.

Each episode starts to feel more the same, and the cute/novelty wears off after awhile without a real plot to follow. I also don’t like How Demi-Chan wa Kataritai Objectifies Disabled Girls, which I’ve written a guest post about here.

My main reason for watching (aside from the sheer cuteness), is wondering which girl, if any, Tetsuo will choose to become romantically involved with in the end.

Characters: 9/10 While story is a bit blah, it makes up for that with completely unique and entertaining characters. Hikari a vampire, Machi a dullahan (headless horsewoman), Yuki a snowwoman, and Saki, a succubus.

At the center of those girls we have their Teacher, Tetsuo Takashi, who goes out of his way to help the girls and also serves as a shared love interest for each of them. He is very caring and kind hearted. He is also very curious and interested in Demi-Humans. Sometimes he is at odds for his desire to help the girls vs his fascination and curiosity.

The anime is carried almost completely just by the fact that all of the characters are so likable and different from any other anime out there right now. I also appreciated that the anime puts its own spin on folk lore and legends about the monsters.

For example, Hikari actually likes garlic, and while she gets weak in the sun, and overheats from her low blood count, she can counteract that by seeking a cool place to rest or eating cold food.

I also enjoy seeing how it focuses on the friendship formed between the girls and how they go from being lonely, to now having each other so they can begin to enjoy their school life.

It is a coming of age story too, and all of the girls are becoming aware of the opposite sex (in this case, their teacher lol). It has a lot of cute heartfelt scenes, like Hikari setting up a date between Sensei and Machi, but then Hikari herself getting jealous that the date is going “too well”.

Hikari is quite bold and immature, but she knows that people expect her to be childish. She uses her “childish reputation” to get away with acting however she wants, whether its kissing Sensei, making her sister help her get ready for school, or eating extra desserts.

I did deduct one point for lack of any character growth or development throughout the series though as we never see the girls deviate from their stereotypical roles (Hikari being bold/childlike, Machi being shy/tender, Yuki being timid and fearful, etc.)

Production Values

Artwork: 5/5 The girls are so super cute. I think a lot of people are watching this just because it’s one of those “cute girls doing cute things” types of anime.

Music: 5/5 I love the opening song. It’s very soft and different. Almost feels like a lullaby. Unique music also highlights how unique the anime is.

Voice Acting: 5/5 I really like the voice acting, especially Tetsuo who seems a bit nervous, but also curious about the girls. Of course the girls all have cute young voices (Saki is a bit more mature sounding). All of the characters are well cast for their roles.

Overall: 43/55 78% C+ “Good Anime For Girls”

Interviews With Monster Girls Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Review:

Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

 

Production: Bejing Enlight Media

Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Concept:

Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.

So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.

Story:

Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.

In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.

Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.

Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.

1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.

2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?

This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Characters

Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.

Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.

Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.

The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.

I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Production Value:

Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.

Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.

Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Aikatsu Photo On Stage English Review

I just recently discovered and began watching “Aikatsu! Stars”. Aikatsu! Stars is a sequel of an anime called Aikatsu! The anime is based on a card / arcade game by Bandai. The arcade card game involves dressing up idols with cute kawaii clothes and accessories to help them achieve a higher score. — From the success of these arcade machines, as well as the success of the anime (which I believe has about 6 seasons now), and the success of the other media related to the Aikatsu franchise — Bandai then introduced Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, a mobile game which is kinda similar to Bandai’s other Idol Collecting / Rhythm Games such as Idol M@ster which I’m just learning now, and Love Live School Idol Festival, which I’ve been meaning to also review, but haven’t really gotten around to just yet.

The main difference in Aikatsu! Photo on Stage compared to Love Live School Idol Festival, is the way in which the rhythm game is actually played. Love Live School Idol Festival displays characters’ faces in a half-moon arc like shape scattered around the screen. As a song plays, music notes, indicated by a ring shape, float out to one of these characters. Pressing on a character at the right time will score higher points. You “chain” “perfect” time presses for the highest score possible.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:00pm PST

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In Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, the rhythm game is completely different (and in my opinion more challenging). This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares.  As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:01pm PST

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You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:01pm PST

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The other significant difference is that Aikatsu! Photo on Stage has never been released in North America. This means the game is in Japanese. My time spent with Aikatsu Photo on Stage has amounted to probably an hour, spread over the past two days. I cannot speak or read Japanese, and am not an expert by any means on this game. In fact, twice now I’ve accidentally clicked things and wasted my stars (in game currency used to summon new idols).

There are people and places to get much better information on this game than what I’m about to share with you. I just wanted to share my love for the game and show how cute it is, and tell you you should be playing this game. You should also watch the anime, at least Aikatsu Stars! because it is super kawaii (cute). It’s like Harry Potter crossed with Love Live School Idol Festival. It follows a young girl as she enrolls in a special academy just for idols. She is given a phone and badge and even taken to pick out a special outfit. And it was discovering this anime that sparked my interest in the game. I thought WOW this would make such a fun game! I want to go to a school for idols too! Then I thought “I wonder if there is a game based on this anime already” There are numerous Nintendo DS games, and then there’s this mobile game (and of course the original arcade/card game).

Once again I’m no expert and the following info may not be 100% correct or accurate. I will include some resources at the end of this article that will probably prove more helpful.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:00pm PST

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First here is how to get the game if you use IOS (iphone, ipad, etc).

From a PC, log out of your Itunes account. In the bottom right corner you should see a flag to change your country/region. — If you don’t see this or if it has moved, don’t worry I’ll show you how you can change regions midway through this process later.

You need to decide which version of Aikatsu you want to play. I chose the Japanese version, but there’s also Korean and Chinese versions. The Chinese version for country code MO even looked like it was in English??? I can’t confirm that though as I chose the Japanese version believing it to be the most updated and least likely to close down later.

So if you want to play the Japanese version, select to change your region to Japan now.

Once you’ve selected your region, search for Aikatsu! – you’ll see a lot of anime and music here, you can narrow your results to just Iphone or Ipad apps to make it easier to find.

Once you find the Aikatsu! Photo on Stage app, click the “+Get” button.

You will then be prompted to create a new itunes account.

Here is where you can change your country if you didn’t already do so. It will say something like “If your billing address is not in the United States, click here to change regions” You can then search again for the Aikatsu app and click the +Get button and be prompted again to set up a new Itunes account.

The important thing is that you select the app and use the +Get Button BEFORE MAKING YOUR ACCOUNT. SUPER IMPORTANT DO NOT IGNORE THIS STEP.

Assuming that you followed this advice, the payment should be set to “None” by default.

Ignoring that step and trying to either change an existing Itunes account region, OR creating a new account before clicking the +Get button will result in you being asked for payment details even for FREE apps! And it will only accept Japanese credit/bank cards or Japanese Itunes Gift Cards. So It’s really important to remember to FIRST select the app, and THEN create your account.

You will then need to finish filling in your details, an email address that is not associated with any other Itunes account, you may need to create a new email address, which you can do for free on sites like hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. Then fill in your secret hints and select a new password.

You need a Japanese address, I have read that you can use a university address, your mileage may vary. My understanding is that as long as the Prefecture, city, and zipcode all line up, the rest of the address doesn’t matter.

You can use a US cellphone number.

You are now the proud owner of a Japanese Itunes Account. Congratulations!

Your app should begin downloading automatically after entering your password or thumbprint.

To get your app to your Iphone: Now from your Iphone, go to settings, and under the “Itunes & App Store” select sign out, and select sign in to use the new account you just created.

Now when you browse the App store you’ll be browsing the Japanese app store.

You can switch back at any time by going to settings and again signing out and back in to your US Itunes account.

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Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not Work on any Rooted Devices, so if you Jailbreak your Iphone it will no longer work for you. This also means Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not run on android emulators such as Bluestacks. So I am not sure how Android users can enjoy this game. I think it involves using a VPN and Tunneling service, but then I don’t know if that would “flag” the “Rooted Device” warning signal, so unfortunately I can’t provide help or directions to get the app on Android.

But assuming you’re an IOS user, you’re now ready to Play Aikatsu! Photo on Stage. And I’m now finally ready to review it for you 🙂

Title: Aikatsu! Photo on Stage

Where to get: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/…

Publisher: Bandai Namco

Genre: Rhythm Game / Idol Simulation

Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:13pm PST

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Geeky: 3/5 – This app is over the top cute/sweet which can distract some from the actual gameplay and features. I read that it was originally aimed at young elementary school girls… However, Bandai was surprised that many “Hardcore” adult male gamers also play the game, perhaps moreso even than their original audience. The reason for the mass appeal is that, if you look past the pink girly graphics, the gameplay itself is quite challenging, and guys like to collect their virtual “waifu” – They may also be trickling down from the other two popular Bandai Franchises, Love Live, and Idol M@ster (or a slew of other Bandai Namco Idol Simulation game series). It loses some points in my opinion with some of the graphics… For example your girls are just motionless/still on the stage, and in the story mode, they’re still, but come “Bouncing in” like a child playing with a Barbie doll, walking her Barbie across the floor by picking up and lowering the whole doll. — This was maybe intentional, given Bandai’s original target audience, and the “dress up theme” but it’s none the less, strange to watch and distracting compared to the more “fluid” looking animations in the other idol apps. The UI also confuses me but that could just be since I can’t read Japanese — However, by contrast, the UI of Ensemble Stars, which I reviewed here, is so simple that it doesn’t matter that it’s Japanese. So I would say there are some overly complex issues with the UI in Aikatsu… but it’s not as bad as the UI in Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls which I’m having even more difficulty navigating (too many things to click/options/features, which yes, makes for an awesome game, but steep learning curve when not in your native tongue).

Sweetie: 5/5 – As mentioned, this game and the anime are unbelievably cute. Seeing your girls on the stage, instead of just a circle with their face is very cute, and outside of performing, you can set your home screen to different backgrounds (often with pink glitter, hearts, gems, etc floating by) and select if you’d like to see 2, 3, or all 8 of your girls. When you go to power up your girls, you will be “dressing them up” to even more kawaii versions of themselves.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:14pm PST

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Concept: 8/10 – I feel like feature wise, it’s a step up from Love Live, but a significant step down from Idol M@ster.   You should play this game because it’s cute. But as for actually “dressing up your girls” Idol M@ster does this better and in a fashion much closer to the Aikatsu! Card Arcade game, which allows you to equip tops, pants, shoes, or a dress which can sometimes take the place of multiple items. By contrast, the Aikatsu mobile game “dresses up” your girls much in the same way that Love Live idolizes your girls. In Aikatsu you have Rare, Normal, and Super Rare “Tokens”, each card will require some combination in some amount of these tokens to “dress up”. It will also require a certain number of hearts… Despite that… I have met the requirements — saying “OK” for each type of token, and have more than enough hearts, and still haven’t been able to dress up my girls (so perhaps I am misunderstanding something about how this works. Like I’ve said a couple times, I’m no expert). But it still seems to me, a rather lackluster system, and seems that Idol M@ster actually has the “dressup system” that the original card arcade game was so popular for.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:04pm PST

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That said, I do think there is some way to scan your cards in Aikatsu Photo on Stage, but I haven’t figured it out, nor do I have any of the cards.

Music wise, I feel like it’s not quite as good as Love Live.

Overall, it’s just “another” idol sim and rhythm game from Bandai Namco, of which there are probably a dozen different apps and franchises to choose, each with their own anime and target audiences. But you just can’t look past how cute and addictive it is to collect all of the girls. Like most of these games, there are limited time events, and the desire to collect the rarest cards keeps players coming back.

Gameplay: 8/10 What makes Aikatsu stand out (at least compared to Love Live), is the way the rhythm game is played which involves squares filling with shapes from a deck of playing cards. If you read the first few paragraphs of my review, you have a good idea how that works already. If not, here’s a recap.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:14pm PST

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This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares.  As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.

You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:15pm PST

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Again deducted a few points for a somewhat overwhelming UI, as well as not quite as feature rich as some of Bandai’s other Idol simulation games.

Also another caveat to the gameplay is the ridiculous load time and frequency at which it keeps requesting to load things. Their loading screen is cute, but I see it way too often and it interrupts my game to the point of frustration.

Story: 8/10 – This is my assumption on what the story is about, based on what I’ve seen of the anime. I cannot read Japanese, so I can’t really grade the story within the actual game. But the story in the anime involves a young girl who goes to a special school for idols. When the girls perform they seem to become like Hatsune Miku or a Vocoloid, and “transform” into much cuter versions of themselves. In the anime, there’s some really bad/cheap 3D animation used when the girls perform their songs lol. But the concept is none the less cute. As the girls enter this special academy they are given all kinds of cute thing, and begin their special training to become idols.

In some ways, it’s very similar to Harry Potter; there are different houses (whose names I forget, but just winging it here) such as Star, Bird, Ocean, Whisper, etc. Students are assigned a house based on their personality and natural abilities. The houses compete with each other, as well as other schools, to be the top idol group in their school and in the world. The girls are given cute costumes and magic idol tools to use in their training and performances. They make friends and go to classes with a variety of characters as classmates and teachers.

The story in the anime is very cute. I prefer this story 100 times more than the story in Love Live because it has that sort of fantasy, Harry Potteresque, “magic idol school” setting. Once again I can’t confirm that the game follows this story.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:13pm PST

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The story is revealed in story scenes upon clearing certain song stages and ranking up, similar to how story is revealed in the Love Live mobile game as well.

I only wish it was in English so that I could actually read the story. As it is now, I skip all the story scenes because I just can’t read them.

The story is a bit juvenile / fluffy – but once again Bandai’s original target audience was gradeschool children with this franchise, so this is to almost be expected.

I also compared the story quite a bit to Full Moon Wo Sagashite – which this anime is really nothing like, except for the age of the main characters, and their desire to become Idols and their sorta similar personalities between the main girls.

Full Moon Wo Sagashite has much more substance, feeling, heart, drama, and strife than Aikatsu! Stars. But if you’re looking to get your idol fix, this may do it for you. Another anime to check out in a similar tone is Fancy Lala.

Aikatsu! Stars Anime
Aikatsu! Stars Anime

Characters: 4/10 – I feel like the character designs are hit and miss, both in terms of personality, and also in their visual appeal. I’m not super far into the anime, but the characters so far story and background wise, feel so cliche… actually many of them feel like a copy/paste of “corresponding” characters from Love Live. There’s one girl that could be a dead ringer for Kotori with the same hair style, half up side pony tail, twisted and clipped over her light blonde/silvery/grey hair. Despite the change in setting to a more fantasy / harry potter style of “Crazy Cute and Cool Idol School” the characters themselves aren’t that unique at all. However, the main character of Aikatsu! Stars is so cute…

She’s my favorite girl, and I was excited when I got her card, even though it’s only “Rare” and not “Super Rare” or “P Rare” (dunno what the P stands for? Precious Rare? Pretty Rare? Premium Rare?). (P Rares are what you want to be aspiring for, but Super Rares are pretty good too. Rares, just as the same with Love Live, aren’t really all that rare at all! lol.) — Anyways sure she’s cute, but how does she differ from any other magical shoujo girl main character? She doesn’t, even the yellow pigtails are sure to remind you of a certain well known shoujo magical girl.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:09pm PST

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 Graphics: 9/10 – So Cute, this is probably the cutest app on my Iphone… I deducted 1 point for the “bouncing” animation in the story scenes where characters move across the screen by bouncing up and down as they glide stiffly across the screen – which looks pretty bad. The anime also is mostly cute 99% of the time, but when the girls transform to sing, it shifts to some really bad 3D animation that looks cheap and dated. Sticking to 2D would have looked so much better; but I think they wanted to show that the girls’ idol performances are using Virtual Reality like Hatsune Miku.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:09pm PST

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Music: 7/10 – The music is good – it better be, since it’s a rhythm game right? But not great. The girls’ vocals don’t have the same tone and quality as the girls’ in Love Live – or if they’re using some of the same cast, perhaps it’s that the song arrangements aren’t quite as catchy. Whatever the reason, if I were to play a game just for music alone, I’d stick with Love Live. The music in Aikatsu! is not bad, it’s “good” but I think it’s natural to want to compare it to Love Live, and it just doesn’t stack up.

Voice Acting: 6/10: The game has a few “one line” voice overs. The voice acting that’s there is good, really good even. I love the voice actor for the male teacher in the red track suit. He is funny and energetic. But the game is not fully voiced and I feel like the potential, especially in the story scenes, is not really reached, especially when similar apps do have full voice overs in this area.

Replay Value: 10/10 This cute game has addictive rhythm games, lots of cute rare girls, and lots of in game events. It’s one that will keep you playing over and over. It’s best in small but frequent doses.

Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overall Aikatsu Photo on Stage will appeal to you if:

You like Kawaii things, such as shoujo, magical girl anime or idol culture.

The rhythm game is fun, and it’s not impossible, but slightly frustrating to play since it is not in English.

If you like Aikatsu Photo on Stage, check out Bandai Namco’s other idol games such as Love Live, Idolish, and Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls. — For anime check out the original Aikatsu! and newer Aikatsu! Stars, as well as Fancy Lala, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Chance Pop Session. You may also like Wizardess Heart because of the harry potter theme which I reviewed here. You’ll also like Ensemble Stars which I reviewed here.

For Additional English Aikatsu! Resources Please Refer to:

Aikatsu English Wiki (very informative, but a lot of information to take in at once): http://aikatsu.wikia.com/wiki/Aikatsu!_Photo_on_Stage!! 

English Menu Translation Screenshots (Good for getting up and playing quickly): http://photokatsu.tumblr.com/post/138182170057/main-menu-translationsguide

Fairly Active Reddit Community (Good for talking about the game, asking specific questions, or showing off your girls): https://www.reddit.com/r/photoonstage/

 

Aikatsu Photo On Stage English Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things

I just did a guest post over on thenerdmentality.com regarding my thoughts on the PS3 game “Beyond Two Souls“.

Did you know this game has many things in common with the TV Series “Stranger Things”?

For example, both Beyond Two Souls and Stranger things focus on a young girl with strange powers. In both cases, they are raised by a government figure who at first treats the girl as if he was their father, in order to gain the girl’s trust and help her learn to use her powers. In both cases, the government uses the girl to open a portal to the other side which has unintended consequences of letting spirits cross over into this world. Also in both cases, the girl runs away, only to be hunted relentlessly by the government throughout both stories.

As for the actual gameplay, story, graphics, and soundtrack itself, and how it compares to Quantic Dream’s other games such as Heavy Rain, why not head over to thenerdmentality.com and check out my full review of Beyond Two Souls.

Thank you to the nerd mentality for letting me guest post for you guys, and thank all of you readers for looking!

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad?

I recently discovered Scum’s Wish from an article describing the relationship between Mugi and Hanabi as abusive. While the anime begins with Mugi and Hanabi both in love with other people and only using each other to satisfy their physical desires, is there really anything inherently wrong with this? People have casual relationships all the time. Not all relationships are built around love.

Not only that, but, I think that love is a feeling that can grow over time. Hanabi and Mugi may not be in love just yet; but that doesn’t mean they won’t fall in love by the end of the anime or manga. There has been much foreshadowing already hinting at this possibility.

Could Hanabi and Mugi ever fall in love or have a happy ending?

Here are some clues that hint that they may be falling for eachother:

In Episode 1: Hanabi tells Mugi not to fall in love with her. Mugi tells her don’t worry, you’re not my type. And she tells him “Me Either” (you’re not my type either). This just seems to be setting a stage for them to fall in love by the end.

In Episode 2: Mugi tells Hanabi “Not all happy things have a happy ending, but you still wouldn’t want to erase them from your memory, and that how should I say, makes you even more unhappy.” — Perhaps Mugi and Hanabi will not have their happy ending, but they will look back not with hatred for eachother, but fondness instead.

In Episode 3, Hanabi starts crying and says that she wants to try to love Mugi

In Episode 2, she gets very aggressive and possessive of Mugi when Moca tries to get close to him.

In Episode 2, Mugi encourages Hanabi to go make friends and gently strokes her hair. Hanabi thinks this is strange and comments that it’s almost like he’s her boyfriend.

In Episode 3, when being naughty together, she thinks Mugi and the act of pleasing Mugi is cute. Mugi also reluctantly here gives in to Hanabi. He feels guilty for thinking (dreaming in this case) of the other girls. He tries to avoid Hanabi’s advances at first. In the end he laments that he is just “destined to be used as a plaything for adolescents”. He doesn’t sound very happy about this. He is hurting too and wants a more affectionate and loving relationship – Granted at this point he still wants it with Akane. He even says he can’t believe he’s satisfied by Hanabi and wishes Akane would “punish” him for it.

In all of the episodes, Hanabi is concerned not only with her own pleasure, but also worried if she’s good enough for Mugi and concerned with pleasing him as well.

The lyrics to the opening song seem to be more about Hanabi X Mugi than Hanabi X Oniichan.

“If Fate existed, I’d like to say, “You’re the one I’m destined to be with”, But I feel those words will destroy what we have right now… so I can’t say them. Even when you’re near you seem so distant. This feeling goes in and out like the tide. I’ll give up. I’ll never give up. An endless game of flower fortune telling. If I’ve lost the key to my treasure box, I’ll embrace my brightest emotions, Hiding their faintly colored remains behind my sighs. When our eyes meet, don’t look away! See through this lie hidden within them. I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now. I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.”

If we analyze those lyrics…

“I feel those words will destroy what we have right now so I can’t say them.” This could refer to either Mugi or Oniichan. With Oniichan and Hanabi they’ve been such good friends for so long that she’s afraid of ruining their friendship. With Mugi and Hanabi, she’s afraid of losing their relationship, even if it is purely physical.

“Even when you’re near you seem so distant” – Once again this line could apply to either Mugi or Oniichan. But I think it applies more to Mugi. Oniichan still comes over to have dinner and hang out as a friend with Hanabi, and they’re close, perhaps even inappropriately so, having to remind each other that he is now her teacher and she’s his student, so they don’t really seem distant at all. Mugi on the other hand keeps his emotions and thoughts hidden away from Hanabi, and they are close physically, but he always imagines Hanabi to be Mei or Akane. He doesn’t embrace Hanabi as Hanabi. He therefore in my opinion is always distant, even when they’re intimately close.

But the most telling is the line at the end: “When our eyes meet, don’t look away!” (Don’t think about Akane or Mei) See through this lie. (Her lie that she doesn’t love Mugi). “I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now” (Don’t tell me you love me, because I don’t know who I love / I love both of them, hence being a “playgirl” or “confused.) (Also “playgirl” would apply directly to how naughty she is with Mugi. With Oniichan she doesn’t have that type of physical relationship).  And “I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.” This could apply to both Mugi or Oniichan, but when you watch the anime, who or what always makes Hanabi cry… It’s Mugi most of the time. Her relationship with Mugi is painful to her… in the beginning, it’s painful to her because she feels like she’s “cheating” on Oniichan… but as time goes on, and at the end of the most recent episode, she’s crying and says she wants to try to love Mugi.

For Hanabi, the chances of ever having a relationship with Oniichan are small because he is her teacher now, and it would create a scandal. For Mugi, although Akane does fool around secretly with her students, this would not be much better already than his relationship with Hanabi or his past with Mei. Akane isn’t ready to be serious about anyone, and yes, she does inappropriate things with the other students, but this is not love either.

At what point (if any) should you give up on someone that you love, knowing that it just can never work out? What if you began seeking comfort from someone else to help fill that loneliness? In the 2nd Episode of Scum’s Wish it’s hinted at what exactly will happen. Hanabi goes out with some girls from her class. One of the girls is dating 2 boys at once. Now she can’t choose because she loves both of them. Hanabi tells her if she doesn’t choose, she will end up alone. This very likely will be in parallel to what will happen to Hanabi. If she can’t give up her crush on Oniichan, but continues to keep dating Mugi, at some point, she will be in love with both of them. She will become stuck and unable to choose either of them, so she will be left alone.

So what do you think? Can Mugi and Hanabi ever fall in love? Will Hanabi or Mugi let go of their crush and find happiness with one another? Is their relationship really that wrong? I don’t feel that they will regret their relationship either way even if they don’t end up together in the end. I think that they will build enough fond memories together that the overall experience of the relationship will have more happy memories than sad ones despite how it may end.

The other article that I read points out that they could find comfort in other things/people. Which may be true, but I still don’t think that comforting each other through their hard time is really that bad. The original article that I read made it sound as if Hanabi and Mugi turn their backs on their friends and family and only turn to each other. This is not true. Mugi has Moca, Hanabi has Oniichan, her mom, and Ecchan. You also see both of them with other classmates, and it’s even stated in the description of the anime that they are both “Popular” and “well liked” at school. So I don’t think that if the relationship were to end that either of them would fall into a hopeless depression.

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad? was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Makura no Danshi – Pillow Boys – Anime Review

OK…. I just watched one of the weirdest anime of my life… Well two of the weirdest anime of my life…. And I didn’t really hate it?..

The first anime I came across is a relatively new anime called OneRoom. In OneRoom, everything is supposed to be in first person… except… only… it’s not??? Because why then can I keep seeing almost up the backs of the girls’ skirts?! Do I have hidden cameras in my apartment? Do I have super powers? Am I having an out of body experience? The answer is NO, they just wanted to cram as much fan service as humanly possible into each 4 minute episode…

Not only that…. But it is the first anime I’ve ever watched which puts YOU in the anime…. or tries to… but fails miserably at this… They make it so you never see, hear, or know anything about the main character… sort of… only except… you do know/assume what he is saying based on the things the girls are saying to you… And unless you’re a total pervert, chances are whatever the anime thinks the main character is feeling/thinking/saying doesn’t line up with what you’re actually feeling/thinking/saying while watching it… so it’s still almost impossible to immerse yourself into this supposed “blank slate”.

While watching it, I felt like I was playing Love+ (a dating sim game), except I wasn’t playing anything at all. It was like a waifu simulator, with all the gamification and simulation parts taken out.

Still… because the artwork was cute… and the music was catchy… and most of all because the episodes were only 4 minutes long, I kept watching….

While reading reviews after watching, just to laugh at peoples “WTF” comments…. I discovered there’s a version of this “anime experiment” designed for women as well….

Enter Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys! An anime by the same studio as OneRoom, Makura no Danshi, or Pillow Boys, features a different Pillow Boy each week.

What the heck is a Pillow Boy? In Japan, for both guys and girls, there are anime pillow cases that fit large body sized pillows. WARNING NSFW: https://www.aliexpress.com/promotion/promotion_anime-male-body-pillow-promotion.html

This anime was blatantly created for one sole purpose… to sell such pillow cases…. and this anime is effective at doing that… Before watching this anime, I knew about the Pillow Boyfriend / Pillow Girlfriend trend in Japan…. and I’d looked at such pillow cases before… I didn’t have a large pillow at the time though; About 3 weeks ago I got a really big expensive memory foam body pillow…. It’s currently dressed in a not very feminine or kawaii dark color…. Watching Pillow Boys reminded me that I could get something more Kawaii that would fit my image, my room, my decor, my life. I already cuddle my pillow every night so why not cuddle it and look at cute anime boys too lol. So I will probably buy one of these pillow slips, as soon as I decide which one I want… there are literally hundreds of styles, some from popular games and anime, and others completely original characters.

So now that you know what a Pillow Boy is… let’s move on to the actual review…

Title: Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys!

Episodes: 12

Episode Length: 4 minutes

Studio: Feel

Publisher: Imagineer

Release Date: 2015

Genre: Slice of Life, Shoujo, Romance, “Pillow Boy Simulator?” lol.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Overall: 35/55 64% D “Average Anime for Girls”

Geeky: 1/5? lol… Not sure… I mean it does have pretty art, and actually I really like the opening theme song, and it IS geeky, because I mean, who else buys these pillows except for geeks. But I can’t in good faith give it a higher score here, because aside from the opening theme, there’s almost no other music, each episode is 4 minutes long, and there’s literally no plot, and it’s just weird as heck lol.

Sweetie: 5/5 – at the opposite end of the rating spectrum, this is an incredibly cute, kinda awkward, and at times highly inappropriate, funny, fun, anime…

Concept: 6/10 — Fanservice for Women. Blatant money-grab anime whose sole purpose is to sell merchandise… but yet… oddly… interesting… and entertaining… Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced… and they’re all pretty cute and likeable….

I want to make a comment here… but it may be a spoiler… not that the story is important or even coherent in this series… but just in case, using my spoiler tags… you can click to read… it’s about the ending of the final episode…

And when you realize THAT, it kinda completely changes the entire tone of the anime lol.

Story: 3/10 – Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced, each episode is self contained and stand-alone. Each episode consists of the Pillow Boy talking to you about his day, and asking you questions, which you’re encouraged as an audience member to talk back to the TV (k we go from talking to pillows to talking to the TV now lol). They don’t give you much time for response, and ultimately, it suffers the same problem as OneRoom, in that it’s still difficult to immerse, because you can still get a vague idea of the “conversation” that is supposedly going on.

Characters: 9/10 – Ok so the characters themselves though are actually strangely cute, and charming. I honestly liked just about all of them. My favorite was probably the cuddly one or the shy astronomy geek, or maybe the naughty twins lol. “Let’s play find the flower” lol. But even the little boy was cute, in a strictly platonic way. But that didn’t stop the anime from making highly inappropriate sexual innuendos and jokes even in that episode such as the title of that episode: “Innocent Danshi, a highly energetic, hot, 5 year old” WHAT THE F??? That is the creepiest weirdest title for an episode I’ve ever seen. PS, the episode is COMPLETELY G rated – thank god. It’s NOT some weird creepy perverted pedophile anime lol. — You know most anime with a “young looking” “Loli” or “Shota” character, they merely LOOK young but are actually of age of consent, and not an ACTUAL 5 year old… but in this anime, he really is a 5 year old, and you’re baby sitting him… I won’t give too much away, but you’re playing power rangers and he tells you to be the pink ranger, and he wants to be the super “rare” black ranger, whose super power is “Fatty Beef Bomber” — Really? lol… Innuendo much there? Given the character’s age, that is just messed up…. But then… when you take into account what I mentioned in the spoiler tag above, about the ending of the final episode, then you can look past this part. Each character is unique and has a charm of their own.

Artwork: 3/5 – The character designs are super cute, but the animation itself is very low quality and cheap. One scene, with your coworker, in particular, keeps one still image on for 1-2 minutes… in a 4 minute episode… that’s…. pretty cheap lol. The character designs are also not consistent — the final episode brings back the pillow boy from Episode 1… and he looks like a junior high school or even elementary school student now (which to be honest, fits his personality better) Except then, near the end, he goes back to looking about college student aged again (as he appeared in the first episode) for a few seconds. I don’t think this was done for any reason other than they were lazy. It wasn’t like he was done in a “chibi” style to be more cute, It was more like, they forgot what they went with, or couldn’t decide on and stick to one style, or they were outsourcing or using different artists – which would be pretty sad given its a 4 minute per episode kind of show, which shouldn’t be overly complex or have that much detail etc.

Music: 3/5 – The opening theme honestly, would be like a 5/5 — I really like it. It’s catchy as heck. But the rest of the anime has almost no music at all… Even an episode where the Pillow Boy is a violinist, which was the weirdest episode to watch without music.

Voice Acting: 5/5 — I thought the voices were cute, as well as the artwork, those two factors played a big role in my liking of the characters and overall enjoyment of the anime.

Overall: 35/55 64% D “Average Anime for Girls”

Makura no Danshi – Pillow Boys – Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Fuuka Anime Review

Fuuka is a relatively new anime that is part of Crunchyroll’s Winter Simulcast lineup. You can watch Fuuka for free on Crunchyroll here.

Fuuka is very similar to other band slice of life anime such as Beck Mongolian Chop Squad or Nana. If you like either of these anime, I think you’ll also enjoy Fuuka.

Check out my “Early Review” for episodes 1 through 4 of Fuuka below, and catch Episode 5 on Crunchyroll Friday at 11:00am EST.

Title: Fuuka

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Length: 12 Episodes (so far only 4 have aired).

Related Media: Fuuka is a sequel to another anime called Suzuka. Fuuka is actually the daughter of one of the main characters in Suzuka. Both Fuuka and Suzuka also have manga adaptations, and Fuuka’s manga is currently still running with new material.

PS: You can enjoy this series without watching Suzuka – I had never heard of Suzuka until I was researching my blog post tonight – and only just started watching Fuuka tonight too and already in love with it. It’s definitely “my kind” of anime! Suzuka is similar but instead of a love triangle in a band, it’s a love triangle in a sports anime. I may marathon it this week while waiting for the next episode of Fuuka :).

Studio: Diomedia and Funimation

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 3/5 – The animation and music are both highlights in this series with extremely high production values; however the slow plot and short overall length of the series could alienate some fans.

Sweetie: 4/5 Awesome characters and story with love as a huge focus and slice of life about kids starting a band. Took away one heart for huge amounts of fanservice.

Concept: 9/10 – It’s not terribly original. (-1 point) It’s been done before, and probably done better before too… but Overall, I am in love with the premise of this series. Two childhood friends drift appear, reconnecting years later – One is well on their way to fulfilling their dreams and promises; while the other simply drifts aimlessly through life until a key event occurs which puts them also on the path to their destiny.

There is a huge love triangle/love rivalry at the center of this drama. There’s also huge  amounts of significant character growth and development. Already just within 4 episodes, we’ve witnessed the main character overcome his fears and shyness and learn to speak up, and we’ve seen already several relationship ups and downs.

As for the female lead whom is the namesake of this show, we’ve watched her, also like the male lead, go from wandering aimlessly, to having a purpose and a goal and a vision. We’ve also seen that although she can essentially be a tomboy, that she too gets shy and awkward at times, and has trouble expressing her feelings.

Also within just 4 episodes we’ve watched them find and recruit all of the necessary members for their band, and even put on an impromptu performance.

Story: 10/10 – If relationship drama and slice of life is not your cup of tea, you will not be too interested in this — However, for me, it’s my favorite genre; and yes, although there are similar anime dealing with “band drama” (Beck, Nana, Your Lie in April, and White Album to name only a very small few) — I still find the concept refreshing and enjoyable.

To put it simply, the story revolves around a love triangle between “music geeks” who are pursuing their dreams of becoming either solo artists or rock band musicians. I’d like to say “pretty sure we know how the triangle will end” given the name of the show… but that is not necessarily true you know~!! Similar Manga such as Nana have had a lot of failed relationships and couples that you’d think should be together, but aren’t.

It could just be that Fuuka goes on to become an idol and fulfill her dream (which is to sing). She could go on to become a strong, independent character — she already is so much stronger than the more emotionally weak (but successful already in her singing career) love rival that she’s pitted against.

Though we do witness weak, tender, and vulnerable sides of Fuuka as well. At this point it’s anyone’s guess how the story will go. Who will Yuu choose? Or perhaps none of those relationships will pan out.

Aside from the love triangle, you witness the day-to-day struggles of performing music, and see the characters at school, work, and home, typical slice of life stuff here.

Fuuka anime review
Fuuka anime review

Characters 10/10: The story begins by introducing the male lead, Yuu, who will become the bass player for the band. He is a very shy and awkward soft-spoken boy who finds escapism online and has difficulty connecting with others face to face.

One day he meets the namesake of the series, Fuuka, as she’s dashing across the street and bumps into him, because he is so busy looking at his phone. This creates a misunderstanding about why he was using his phone, and it won’t be the last misunderstanding between them either.

Fuuka is an extremely energetic and bright young girl who has a strong tomboy streak and acts very unlady-like at most times. Like a lot of young people, she wonders what she should be doing with her life. One day, she gets free concert tickets to a live event. As they’re walking home, she begins to sing, and finds encouragement and feedback from Yuu, which causes her to impulsively want to form a band. She pretty much forces Yuu to go along with her idea, and Yuu can’t say no at this point, because his personality is weak, and Fuuka is very dominant at this point.

They also enlist the help of a classmate who is charming and good looking but “not interested in girls” as he himself says lol. He becomes the keyboard artist for the group.

Lastly, they recruit an upper classman who has been pestering Fuuka to join the track and field team oneday when he lets it slip that his big brother used to be a drummer; thus, he too becomes a drummer like his brother.

As mentioned, there’s also a very prominent love rival in the form of a childhood friend of the main character.

The main character also lives in a house full of females (enter more copious amounts of fanservice). And a cast of side characters consisting of teachers and advisers who also happen to be former band-mates who have taken the new members under the wing.

Anyways, most of all, I can’t explain but the namesake of this show is just so darn cute sometimes (in her actions and facial expressions). And there are some truly cute moments between both “couples” in the series… It’s definitely the cute characters that make this series for me, especially Fuuka!

Artwork: 4/5 I love the artwork in this series; they way their eyes are drawn and the detail and light in their eyes is especially pretty. However — could do without the huge amounts of blatant fanservice.

Music: 5/5 – Thankfully this is really, really good; I mean it’s an anime about music, so it’d better be good right? lol. Crunchyroll for some reason doesn’t have subtitles on the opening or ending theme which is a bummer, but no fault of course of this anime and just a fail on Crunchy’s part.

The music is fast paced, and more “J-Rock” infused. Once again similar in ways to Beck and Nana with the same “vibe”. There are also a few tracks (from the love rival) which are definitely more soft and Pop inspired.

Voice Acting: 5/5 They have to be able to both sing and act, so I once again give this a 5 out of 5.

Overall: 50/55 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Fuuka Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sailormoon R The Movie Theatrical Release Uncut English Dub Review

Update: I recently had an opportunity to see the film again, subtitled this time, and just completed my review for the subtitled version here. If you’re curious about the differences between the two versions, or just want to see the subtitled review, you can check it out here. Otherwise, continue reading below here for my original review of the dubbed version.

I just got back from seeing Sailor Moon R the Movie at Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Ohio. We saw the uncut English Dub with the new Viz voice cast (that they have been using for a few years now for their re-dubbing of the DVDs and Blu-ray TV series). The movie is prefaced by an interview with the new cast. The interview is then followed by an animated short called “Moon Power Makeup” which is mostly just a string of flashbacks of season 1 which help to introduce the scouts to perhaps those who have not watched the first season. Also they give you a fancy looking black envelope and inside you will find art of one of the 5 original sailor scouts. We got Sailor Jupiter and Mars. You’ll also find some promotional inserts trying to encourage you to buy the TV series Blu-rays and Manga.

It drew a huge crowd last night, nearly selling out a large, several hundred seat theater. Before making the 3 hour drive to go see the film, I checked to ensure there would be tickets available. It said over 200 seats were remaining. By time the film started, much of that total had sold – plus who knows how many sold before I even checked the website. The theater was near max capacity. We had a large crowd to both the immediate left and right of us. The entire balcony area behind us was completely full, and all throughout the floor level, there was scarcely more than 1 or 2 empty seats beside each other, here or there.

Watching it on the big screen was quite an awesome experience. The colors seemed so much brighter and richer compared to when I watched the original VHS – but that may very well be due to some “HD Remastering” or retouching. Either way, seeing Sailormoon on the big screen was pretty awesome, and seeing the huge turn out of Sailor Moon loving geeks and fans in their Sailormoon shirts, hats, etc all gathered in one place, was really awesome too. Of course I wore a Sailormoon Geeky Tshirt too. :).

My thoughts on the actual movie itself are below. Enjoy my review, and if you get the chance, make sure you get out there to support our Sailor Scouts!

Title: Sailor Moon R the Movie (uncut English dub version)

Release Date: January 2017

Publisher: Toei Animation, Eleven Arts, and Viz Media

Geeky: 5/5   High points for Nostalgia, and excellent animation for the date/time of the film.

Sweetie: 3/5  Although I love Sailor Moon, the movie is a bit weak in the character development and romance areas when compared to the TV series.

Overall: 45/55 82% B- Very Good Anime for Girls

Concept: 10/10 Seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is awesome no matter how good or bad the movie itself is. It’s something I’ve literally dreamed of doing ever since I was a child. And, as the English cast points out, rarely do you see anime in a US theater, especially anime that is now, nearly 30 years old. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience… and judging by how many tickets the theater sold, perhaps Viz and Eleven Arts will treat us to re-releasing the other Sailor Moon movies in theater format in the future as well.

Story: 8/10 There is a lot of action and almost no character development in this film. Also, unless you’re a fan of the series (but then again, who isn’t a fan of Sailor Moon?), you may feel a little lost or confused even with the inclusion of the Mini-cartoon that re-introduces the scouts and explains their strengths and weaknesses and about the silver moon kingdom and their rebirth on earth. — And although Chibiusa is included in the Mini-cartoon and actual movie, her past and history and relationship to Usagi is actually not explained at all.

The story is also unbelievably cheesey. I don’t know if it’s quite so bad in the subtitled version. I would love to go again to the second and final showing this week which is subtitled to compare how much was just a cheesey plot by the Japanese staff, and how much was cheesey from poor translation choices and poor voice acting from the US staff. There were several scenes that were meant to be serious which caused 300+ people to burst out laughing instead.

Those two small complaints aside, the story is actually very cute and gives you a unique look at Mamoru’s childhood. Also, in this uncut version, they more clearly explain Mamoru’s relationship with the new villain. I remember when the movie was announced a few months ago, I got into an “argument” with someone on facebook who made a comment when I shared the news post. They argued that the relationship was more than platonic, and I counter argued, that they were just close childhood friends… but after seeing the uncut version, I have to concede, and agree, the relationship is definitely 100% romantic.

The Sailor Scouts even joke about the questionable nature of the relationship, quipping things such as “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too” “Well I guess it’s fine if you’re born that way” “There’s even a few couples like that at my school” and Usagi is stressed/worried and says to herself “It sure seemed like more than friends”. Which comes as no surprise, because by the next few seasons, almost everyone in the Sailor Moon universe is openly exploring their sexuality, with Uranus x Neptune, Uranus x Moon, and Chibiusa X Saturn… and that’s not even mentioning Sailor Stars, which are essentially gender-neutral, or transgendered Women who were born in Men’s bodies when they re-incarnated and transforming back to female when they take their Sailor forms. So Sailor Moon is no stranger to dealing with these topics. It was actually quite revolutionary for its day and time, back in the 90s, when even live-action TV shows were still shying away from tackling such relationships.

If your favorite part of Sailor Moon is the action and fighting scenes you will probably really enjoy Sailor Moon R the Movie. It is way more action heavy compared to the TV Series. It opens right away with a lengthy and fairly violent fight sequence.

The story is also full of comedy… Shortly after that fight sequence, there’s a scene with Usagi and Chibiusa that builds and builds the same joke for what seems like forever, but it was effective. I don’t laugh out loud easily… and even that elicited a chuckle from me (and uproarious laughter from the huge audience).

Despite, at the core, the story being about Mamo and Usagi and the new Villain, it’s actually not very Romance laden. They are on a date at the opening of the film, but once again comedy comes in to foil any chance of romance for the two of them.

Characters 8/10: As mentioned, character development is really pretty much non-existent. You could easily skip watching this film and not miss anything earth-shattering in developing the scouts or Mamo as characters. You’d miss out a lil on Mamo’s backstory but it’s mostly stuff that’s been glossed over briefly by the series anyways.

The scouts are featured heavily in the film and so if you’re the type who complains that one of the weaknesses of Crystal is how it’s all about Mamo x Usagi, (this seems a common complaint), then you’ll like how prominent each of the scouts are in this film, and a decision that Usagi makes near the end of the movie, showing how much she loves and cares for the other scouts. Though this too is not surprising if you’ve seen the 90s TV series you know the focus was more on Usagi and the Scouts and less on the Reincarnation / Romance bits.

If however, one of your primary draws to Sailor Moon is the character development or romance, this movie may very well disappoint you.

But you should still go see it, because it’s Sailor Moon :). How long have we waited to see this cast of characters on the big screen? And if we want to see the other movies, a re-run of the dub, or airing of the new Viz dub, or a new season of Crystal, or perhaps a continuation of the series even beyond Stars, or more Sailor Moon merchandise and collectibles, then, you know as they say “Money Talks”.

Also, as you know, the characters in Sailor Moon as very diverse, with almost someone for EVERY girl out there to look up to. How many TV shows or Movies can claim such a wholesome cast full of role models for young women?

Sailor Moon teaches us about friendship, love, respect, and kindness. Moon is the quintessential loud/ditzy/friendly outgoing girl, Mercury is the smart/brainy/shy girl, Mars is the mysterious/quiet/serious/beautiful girl, Jupiter is the “tomboy” type girl (who also secretly has a soft side and loves to cook, and falls in love easily), Venus is the “best friend” or “girl next door” type of girl.

With so many different personalities, there’s bound to be a superhero that your kids can look up to, which I think is one of the reasons for the series continued success and popularity.

Artwork: 4/5 This is the old 90s style animation, and it shows… There’s some really bad CG effects later on in the film… and the characters have that unique 90s style to them… However, I was surprised by how bright and vivid the colors were and how crisp, clean, and clear all of the animations looked. There are also some lovely backgrounds too.

Music: 4/5 I was surprised to see they kept the Japanese music with the English dub. This worked fine 90% of the time… Except for two occasions… One in the Mini-cartoon before the featured film, in a flash back Rei is singing… in Japanese… after seconds ago speaking in English… this felt disjointed, jarring, and just out of place…. The other occasion is perhaps debatable, but you can form your own opinion… My opinion is I would have loved to hear the old English version of the Sailor Moon opening theme — Or to have at least seen subtitles of the Japanese lyrics when the song played at the start of the movie.

Other than those two points of contention, which I admit are perhaps not a commonly shared opinion, the music in the film was quite enjoyable, adding to the suspense, action, and drama of the film. The soundtracks to Sailor Moon have always been among my favorites. I owned many of the imported Japanese CDs, as well as some of the English cassette tapes and equally loved both the Original Japanese music, as well as the old 90s stuff too.

Voice Acting 3/5 – I do not normally like to watch dubs. I went to the dubbed movie, simply because it was playing on a weekend, while the subtitled version is playing on a weeknight. I do not follow the North American Voice Actors, so I have really no clue who these people are (other than I do know they are not the original cast, and are the new cast put together by Viz).

I will say it is super nice to see an Asian American playing the lead role, when so many other anime movies (such as the live action Ghost in the Shell) are being White Washed by movie producers. Of course, one Asian with a cast of almost entirely white folks, still isn’t that great, but it’s a start.

Now as to the quality of their performance… it does take some getting used to, if you’re a fan of the original 90s cast, you will notice distinguishable differences which might seem jarring at first. Overall though, I feel the cast did a wonderful job.

There are a few… either… ill acted… or poorly written lines…. The most notable of which was at the end of the movie when the new villain says “It’s all over now… Mamo has thrown a flower at me” — He is so overly dramatic… and the words chosen make it seem … so…. cheesey… The entire theater erupted in laughter for pretty much 10 minutes straight… followed by a scene shortly thereafter where he reverts to his childhood form and tumbles off silently into space.

But perhaps… that cheeseyness is part of Sailor Moon’s charms. The cheesey lines are when the theater laughed the most and had the most fun. 90s anime IS very cheesey… so I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing really! But it was… probably…. not intentional — because it was supposed to be a serious, dramatic, and even slightly sad scene.

I also noticed several instances where Sailor Jupiter used a cuss word. I am fairly certain that this was a liberty taken only in the dub, because in Japan the anime was intended for preschool children, also Japanese as a language I don’t think has direct swear words such as that.

It was so jarring that I began counting the number of swears… There were 3 or 4 of them that I noticed… all from Sailor Jupiter as she was fighting. It’s a minor swear word — but still… It just did not seem to fit the spirit of Sailor Moon as a franchise.

I do appreciate that the script was “uncut” — and if that swearing was in the original Japanese script, then I’m glad they left it in. To edit it would be sad because it would mean they were back to trying to make a child friendly show or care about ratings more than care about doing an accurate translation.

So I’m on the fence as to if the swearing was “good” or “bad” – if part of the original script, it’s “good” that the script wasn’t altered to be more “kid friendly”; however, if it was as I suspect, a creative liberty taken by Viz staff then “bad”. A simple clicking of the tongue, or a Tch sound could have replaced the one syllable swear word, and seemed more “at home” in such a child-friendly show.

But overall, the voice acting was good for the most part. The scouts really showed their personalities and had voices somewhat similar/close to the 90s cast (Jupiter has a deep husky voice in both the 90s version as well as the new Viz cast; Sailor Moon has a ditzy and bubbly voice, Mercury a very calming/soothing voice, etc.) Therefore, largely I feel the series is well cast and the deliverance of their lines, mostly, pretty solid (though there were some notably cringe-worthy moments as well (such as the one with the new villain which I referenced above). Thankfully though, the cringe-worthiness was the exception and not the norm throughout the film.

Overall: 45/55 82% B- Very Good Anime for Girls

Overall, the experience of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen, the hundreds of moonies who turned out for the event, and the movie itself, made for an enjoyable and nostalgic night of entertainment.

Sailormoon R The Movie Theatrical Release Uncut English Dub Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Stardew Valley Review

As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

Geeky: 2/5  –  This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!

Sweetie: 4/5  – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.

At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).

And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.

Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).

There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.

You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!

Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.

Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.

I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.

Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —

I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.

And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).

The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.

Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.

There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.

Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.

Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.

Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.

Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut,  a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.

Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.

Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.

Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.

I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.

I did take off a few points for the following:

  • It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
  • Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
  • Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.

Music: 10/10 – The soundtrack is one of my favorite things about this game. It is infectiously catchy. Not only does it feature great music, but sound effects are skillfully used to further create immersion and once again give rise to a game world that feels bursting with life. Sound effects for weather effects, animals, monsters, and machines and tools all help paint a picture of what life in Stardew Valley is all about.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Despite myself criticizing many things in this game such as terrible controls and user interface, lack of promised features and development setbacks, and a rather barebones story and characters who are dull and cliche, there’s just something indescribable about the gameplay itself. It is just a fun game. It’s not a perfect game… but it is one that I would recommend. I can seriously see myself sinking hundreds, or even thousands, of hours into the game, a single playthrough takes probably a hundred hours or more, and if you want to try a different profession or pick a different husband or wife, you’ll be starting a new farm, as the game autosaves every night which takes the freedom of creating multiple save files from a single playthrough out of your hands.

When I play Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m living a second virtual life, I come to care about my character, her friends and relationships, the farm, the city, and everything that’s going on in the game world. It offers me a challenge with several aspects being only discovered later in the game, and that too keeps the experience feeling fun and fresh and wondering what will happen each time I play.

Stardew Valley is a game that pulls you in with all of its charm — However, it could do with some fine tuning to greatly improve certain gameplay and story aspects.

Would I play it again? Absolutely. Given the sheer amount of things to see and do, it is impossible to accomplish everything on a single playthrough and no two farms are exactly alike.

It is that feeling, that my farm, my village, my animals, my crops, my house, my little virtual family, that they are unique and truly unlike anyone elses’ that is the driving force that makes me want to sit down and invest my precious time and energy into this game. That and the kawaii cute graphics and charming nature of the game that seem to just suck you right in.

And once Multiplayer gets implemented, kiss your real life goodbye, as the 50,000 people who think “Overwhelmingly Positive” things about the game, as well as thousand of new players, will be busy visiting their friends’ farms and experiencing brand new gameplay elements.

Stardew Valley is constantly evolving with new maps, new characters, new skills, new recipes, and new fun!

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Stardew Valley Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review

This past week I finally marathoned the anime that everyone’s been talking about. Yuri!!! On Ice won a ton of awards recently in Crunchyroll’s 2016 Anime awards. And not only that, but it’s been gaining unprecedented attention even from people who would not identify as Otaku or Anime fans, including actual real professional Olympic and Competitive Ice Skaters. The series is herald for its beautiful intricate artwork that perfectly captures the movements and expressions of professional ice skaters, as well as a fantastic musical score, and touching love story which stands apart from the rest since it features 2 LGBT males. It handles the relationship in a sweet and innocent and tasteful way, and shows a lot of depth and heart combined with suspense and drama as you watch and learn more about the characters inner most thoughts both on and off the ice.

Title: Yuri!!! On Ice

Release Date: October 2016

Genre: Slice of Life, Sports, Comedy, Romance

Length: Season 1 is 12 episodes. Season 2 has been announced but no date set yet

Studio: MAPPA and Funimation

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 5/5 – The level of difficulty in animating this show is mind blowing. The characters’ movements on the ice feel so lifelike. The soundtrack is also amazing with very memorable opening and ending themes.

Sweetie: 4/5 – There is a lot of comedy, as well as a very heartwarming love story between the main character and his coach. There’s also a cute doggie ❤ However, at times, especially later in the series the story can move a lttle too slowly.

Overall: 42/45 93% A “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 8/10 Yuri has just returned home to Japan after several years of training abroad as a professional Ice Skater. He finished last place in last year’s “Grand Prix” (although he fails to realize that even placing among these 6 finalists is a feat worthy of being proud of.). He returns to Japan unable to face his fans, friends, or family, until a mysterious guest arrives!! It’s Yuri’s life-long idol, Viktor, a famous Russian Figure Skater whom Yuri has always looked up to. Viktor announces that he has taken time off from his professional skating career in order to become Yuri’s coach. During this time he will live side by side with Yuri and things begin to heat up both on and off the ice. I deducted a few points as there are some pacing issues at times and the large amount of “skater jargon” can distract (although it does add realism which is a big plus!)

Characters: 10/10 There are a number of rival figure skaters from around the world. When they hear news of Viktor’s semi-retirement in order to coach Yuri, they have mixed reactions of anger, jealousy, intrigue, disappointment, or amusement.

Viktor’s former coach takes a new skater on to train in Viktor’s absense, who just also happens to named Yuri. This “other” Yuri had been friends with Viktor and Viktor had promised to choregraph his senior skating debut performance. Viktor is rather forgetful however about promises… leaving Yuri to travel to Japan to confront Japanese Yuri and the forgetful Viktor which sets off a heated rivalry which will last all season.

The story follows both Yuris and several other side characters, along with their coaches, as they travel and perform and perfect their skating, leading up to a face off in yet another Grand Prix.

Not only does it focus on the excitement of watching who will advance to the tournament finale, but also on their life, friends, family, and personal relationships both on and off the ice.

Animation: 5/5 – The animation in this series is insane. It seems as if you’re watching real people, real professional figure skaters.

Music: 5/5 – Each skater’s performances are highlighted with unique music scores, just like a real figure skater. Most of these tracks are super catchy, and watching them skate to each track is almost like some weird “Fantasia on Ice” anime. Not only that, but the opening theme and ending theme are both catchy AF and super memorable, both because of the songs and also the animations. The ending theme uses an instagram or snapchat style photo feed and totally brought back feels of Prompto’s Photography skill in FFXV making it very timely and relevant. Both Yuri on Ice and also FFXV also focus on strong male-centric relationships/friendships. The opening theme of Yuri on Ice is in English which is a rare and nice touch, and the animation is done in a sketch-book style of the anime opening.

Voice Acting: 5/5 The Voice Acting is also nearly flawless. Yuri’s sweet innocent voice, Christopher and Viktor’s more sultry/mature voices, Yurio’s rough and aggressive voice, or JJ’s high energy and confident voice, they each highlight the characters’ emotions and energy levels.

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News